Ariel SolarBreeze Review

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
E228608C-FAA2-4A6E-8AAB-41F910230445.jpegSo mine just arrived via UPS today. Unboxed it and put it on the deck to do a quick inspection.

Build quality looks pretty good. It appears they may have fixed some deficiencies from the NX2. Some quick differences that I have noticed.

It is generally about the same size as the NX2 maybe just a touch taller.
The solar panels are textured. There is an issue with the NX2 panels getting cloudy after a few months. I wonder if this texturing will help prevent that.
The view hole to see the tray status is just a hole now instead of covered with a clear piece of plexiglass. That plexiglass used to cloud up or get condensation on the underside that blocked the view.
The tray now has metal clips to hold it in place. The NX2 had plastic ones that broke fairly easily which caused the tray to slip out a little.

Will put it in the pool tomorrow morning to see how it moves around and to determine battery strength.




8FAF0832-67DC-46F8-B137-AF785F8BDF5B.jpeg
 
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Katodude

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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
The old NX2 tray with the plastic clips.
 

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Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Sea trials….

Well she has been in the water for about an hour now. She really does have some sort of object avoidance. When approaching the side of the pool she seems to slow down and start turning away. Its kind of cool to see. She does get a little confused sometimes in a corner, but way less than the NX2 which seemed to live in the corners. This is important for me since I have 12 corners in my pool. She spends much less time in reverse which is also nice.

I run the spa spillover in the morning for 2 hours, because I like looking at the waterfall and to make sure I exchange the water in the spa. The NX2 would get caught in that a few times during the cycle that would require a manual intervention. Ariel has not had that problem yet, but we will save that for the long term test.

So in theory, direct drive motors, and less full speed crashing into sides of the pool should help with longevity. But only time will tell.

Its also a clear day and the pool should get full sun today allowing for a full charge. Let’s see if she makes it through the night. The NX2 had no problems doing that.
 
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Katodude

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Aug 22, 2017
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
So at around 2pm the battery went to full charge. Its a clear day and the pool has had full sun all day. Let’s see if it can make it through the night. Otherwise it is more maneuverable than the NX2 and spends more time working the pool than trying to get out of corners. Not a very windy day (for a change) so not a lot of debris. Will report back when there is a good comparison.

The NX2 is now relegated to cleaning the spa.
 

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Katodude

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Aug 22, 2017
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West Palm Beach/Florida
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So the Ariel did not run through the night. That was quite disappointing. I verified with some other members here who have reported the same thing. I logged a call with support today. They are supposed to get back to me. The manual states that it should run for 10 hours on battery. It did not do that.

Giving it another try tonight. I turned power off to the Ariel to charge and am running the NX2, this way the Ariel will have a head start. Will let them fight it out overnight and see who is running in the morning.
 

gvc

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2010
68
So the Ariel did not run through the night. That was quite disappointing. I verified with some other members here who have reported the same thing. I logged a call with support today. They are supposed to get back to me. The manual states that it should run for 10 hours on battery. It did not do that.

Giving it another try tonight. I turned power off to the Ariel to charge and am running the NX2, this way the Ariel will have a head start. Will let them fight it out overnight and see who is running in the morning.
probably a combination of less battery capacity and direct drive system needing more power to operate. still cleans pool pretty well this time of year but not so sure about its performance later in less sun in the fall/winter when those dying leaves litter the pool especially on windy change of season days. probably be using both ariel & nx2
 

gvc

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2010
68
aside from the lesser battery capacity, ariel has done a decent job of keeping the pool surface clean. but i wanted to alert any of u to a situation i had this morning with the charge indicator remaining red even though she was and had been in sunshine most of the morning. even on the deck in direct sun for about a half an hour & it was still showing red. i did a factory reset by holding the power button down for about 5 seconds which corrected the issue.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,705
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
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Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Its maneuvering is really good. I need to do that hard reset every few days, but that is not a big deal.

It even does a really good job of avoiding the spillover from my spa which the NX2 loved to get trapped under.
 

franks59

Member
Aug 18, 2016
10
Columbia MD
Just got one of these myself.
I wondering though, how the heck do I get it to the side of the pool to turn it off. I'm guessing a pole but since it's constantly running it might be real tricky to keep it close long enough to turn it off.

Any tips?
 

Diver__

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
Southern California
Just got one of these myself.
I wondering though, how the heck do I get it to the side of the pool to turn it off. I'm guessing a pole but since it's constantly running it might be real tricky to keep it close long enough to turn it off.

Any tips?
I use the pole laying around for the net. I put a cork at the end of mine, so I lodge it in the opening it has on the top without scratching the housing or solar panels, and bring it aside that way and press the power button.
It doesn't travel away fast enough that I cannot press the button in time from my experience.
 

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Diver__

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
Southern California
I just got mine a bout 2 weeks ago. I was very impressed for a few days. It seemed to operate smartly when approaching walls and did a great job at keeping the surface impeccable for an impromptu swim session, which was exactly why I got it in the first place.

About a week later, I noticed a lot more leaves on the surface, so I monitored the unit's behavior in the pool to identify the issue:

  • I realized the unit was spending most of its running time spinning on itself for up to 20 minutes uninterrupted sometimes.
  • It seems to like going backwards into walls for long periods of time. See video (20 sec time-lapse of 20 minutes)
None of these behaviors seemed to happen during the first week, but after a week the "AI" in the unit seemed to respond erratically, like changing path in the middle of the pool,. before reaching an obstacle. Going backward in walls for up to an hour, etc.

I tried the hard reset method described on the manufacturer's site (push power button for 5s), but since I get no confirmation from the LED lights that I reset the unit, I am not sure I accomplished that properly and the issues are persisting.
At first glance, it seems that the unit is not interpreting properly the signals it gets from the sensors. Not sure how many proximity or photo sensors are in the unit nor how they operate, but something seems faulty.

I reached out to support last week, I have yet to hear back from solar-breeze, but I was wondering if anyone here is experiencing any of the issues I described?
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,705
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
The hard reset should turn off all the LEDs. Push and hold the button until no lights are on. They turn it back on. See if that works.

It will take a few days for support to get back to you, they are just backlogged.
 

Diver__

New member
Sep 4, 2021
3
Southern California
The hard reset should turn off all the LEDs. Push and hold the button until no lights are on. They turn it back on. See if that works.

It will take a few days for support to get back to you, they are just backlogged.
Thanks, that did not do it. The spinning and backing into walls intensified and also noticed one of the LEDs not lighting up at night. Support is sending a replacement, but lead time is super long apparently, since I already waited months for my unit.
 

terbird

New member
Sep 22, 2021
4
30078
So the Ariel did not run through the night. That was quite disappointing. I verified with some other members here who have reported the same thing. I logged a call with support today. They are supposed to get back to me. The manual states that it should run for 10 hours on battery. It did not do that.

Giving it another try tonight. I turned power off to the Ariel to charge and am running the NX2, this way the Ariel will have a head start. Will let them fight it out overnight and see who is running in the morning.
Hey "KD" ! ... did solarbreeze ever have an answer for your inquiry ? I have had my own issues with the Original, and the NX (in only 3 years) enough so that Solarbreeze offered a nice deal for the Ariel, and I took it. Okay .. I like many features with the Ariel, however I also immediately notice the battery's early decline after sundown. I took 2 days of solid, full charging, direct sunlight to max my efforts, and the charge light was still flashing when I finally put the unit in the water . . . . AND THEN, the green, charge light went 'Solid' ! It ran like a champ until after about 3 hours of 'dusk' - when it stopped running. ... after "2 full days of Sun Charging" ( and my NX experience was 'so different' ) .. I was disappointed ! ... so "KD" .. how're You doing with this ?
 

terbird

New member
Sep 22, 2021
4
30078
probably a combination of less battery capacity and direct drive system needing more power to operate. still cleans pool pretty well this time of year but not so sure about its performance later in less sun in the fall/winter when those dying leaves litter the pool especially on windy change of season days. probably be using both ariel & nx2
Hey "gvc" ! ... did solarbreeze ever have an answer for your inquiry ? I have had my own issues with the Original, and the NX (in only 3 years) enough so that Solarbreeze offered a nice deal for the Ariel, and I took it. Okay .. I like many features with the Ariel, however I also immediately notice the battery's early decline after sundown. I took 2 days of solid, full charging, direct sunlight to max my efforts, and the charge light was still flashing when I finally put the unit in the water . . . . AND THEN, the green, charge light went 'Solid' ! It ran like a champ until after about 3 hours of 'dusk' - when it stopped running. ... after "2 full days of Sun Charging" ( and my NX experience was 'so different' ) .. I was disappointed ! ... so "gvc" .. how're You doing with this ?
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,705
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
They are supposed to release a fix later this fall. It will probably require sending the unit back to upgrade it.
 

terbird

New member
Sep 22, 2021
4
30078
Wow .. not used to folks quite as 'On the Ball' as you "KD" <-- hope that's ok). Thank You very much, and yeah ... I know 'Kristi, Paul, and the gang in Tempe' pretty much from 4 'visits' in the past. Thanks KD . . . T.
 
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SABLT194

New member
Sep 24, 2021
1
Gardners
Ok- New to this forum and have already read many interesting posts. I've had my pool for 32 years. It's a simple 18 X 36 oval liner pool and has been great. I received my Ariel about 1 month ago and would like to share my observations. I did not have the earlier NX version. I get a lot of small leaves. Part of my pool is shaded by a Shademaster locust tree which I have a love/hate relationship with. Love the shade on hot summer days, hate the leaves in the fall, and the blossoms in the spring. Shademaster leaves are about the size of a nickle, and there's millions of them that start falling in September. So, I purchased Ariel to reduce my manual skimming duties.

Upon initial inspection of Ariel, I thought How Groovey, sleek, colorful, and just generally cool looking it was. As promised it was charged and ready to put in the pool right out of the box. So, I put her in and let her rip. Again, very cool and kind of mesmerizing watching it paddle all around my pool. I was impressed so far.

Now to the review after about a month of service:

Battery life - Solar Breeze claims that Ariel can run overnight. That's just not the case. I get maybe 3 hours or so after the sun goes down. The good news it that the solar panel is large enough to keep her paddling about all day on a reasonably sunny day. If dark clouds set in, Ariel will eventually go to standby. It's all a matter of how cloudy, angle of the available sun, and time. I won't even try to run mine in rainy day full cloud cover, or at night.

Leaf and debris gathering performance - It did not take long for me to realize that "In my pool" with "my small leaves" , Ariel's ability to pick up anything was pretty much a failing grade and very disappointing. However, I'm a retired Mechanical Engineer, and a tinker'r for sure, so I set out to see If I could improve Ariel's capture efficiency.

First off the problems - Ariel's attitude and angle in the water put the tips of the front gathering paddle pretty deep in the water. The effect of this was that as Ariel paddled around, it created a fairly large bow wave that extend out about 8 to 12" in front of the pontoons. The impact of the bow wave is that anything in the path that should be captured, rides the bow wave out to the sides past the gathering opening. By the time Ariel gets to where the debris was, it's already out side of the gathering opening. So- there's nothing to pick up, it's already on the side or behind Ariel. The President of Solar Breeze suggested I add some weight to that back to raise the front paddle up. I did that and it did reduce the amplitude and effect of the bow wave. I would say the capture efficiency went for about 5% (of stuff that was in it's path) to about 15%. So 85% of the debris that should have been picked up was still being missed! It would paddle about all day and the leaf drop would very quickly overwhelm Ariel's gathering rate. Clearly the efficiency needed more improvement.

Pontoons - The shape of the pontoons (semi - blunted front) is such that the eddy current in front of the pontoon simply pushes leaves out and around the sides of Ariel. Plus the pontoons are tucked slightly under the sides of the white top housing and orange corner bumpers. The effect of that is that there is no way on gods green earth that Ariel will gather anything within 4 to 6" near the edges of a pool. You pool owners know that surface tension of the water tends to make stuff hang out around the perimeter.

So I designed and fabricated a pair of front winglets that create a much larger opening in the front, and extend out the sides far enough to contact to sides of the pool liner as Ariel rides the perimeter, This is not 100% effective at removing leaves that are stuck to the side of the liner but it's pretty good at getting stuff that's within 1/2" of the pool edge. This modification improved the capture efficiency from about 15% to 85% 'ish. With that Ariel can easily keep up with my Shademaster locust.

Now finally keeping the leaves and bugs in the tray - Now that I had good capture efficiency the next problem became obvious. It seems that as Ariel exercised it's timed reverse movement, the debris that had been captured would get expelled out of the front past the gathering paddle wheel. How disappointing is that?? Go to the trouble to gather stuff, then spit it all out.

My solution to this was to add a thin mylar flapper on the front of the gathering tray. The flapper just barely touches the tips of the gathering wheel. I kind of acts like a one way valve. Like the Hotel California - Stuff can check out any time they like but they can never leave. It actually works like a charm!

So- my Ariel is now an awesome leaf and bug eating monster! Your experience may be completely different than mine but I thought I would share.
My next improvement will be to add whiskers to the winglets to see if I can get those pesky leaves that stick to the sides of the liner.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the typos, wrong words, misspellings, and crappy sentence structures.
Regards,
Steve
 
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Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,705
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
So that is a great write up. I have noticed the bow wave as well.

:nopic:


We are going to need to see these design modifications. I feel like you have really made some great improvements.
 

terbird

New member
Sep 22, 2021
4
30078
Ok- New to this forum and have already read many interesting posts. I've had my pool for 32 years. It's a simple 18 X 36 oval liner pool and has been great. I received my Ariel about 1 month ago and would like to share my observations. I did not have the earlier NX version. I get a lot of small leaves. Part of my pool is shaded by a Shademaster locust tree which I have a love/hate relationship with. Love the shade on hot summer days, hate the leaves in the fall, and the blossoms in the spring. Shademaster leaves are about the size of a nickle, and there's millions of them that start falling in September. So, I purchased Ariel to reduce my manual skimming duties.

Upon initial inspection of Ariel, I thought How Groovey, sleek, colorful, and just generally cool looking it was. As promised it was charged and ready to put in the pool right out of the box. So, I put her in and let her rip. Again, very cool and kind of mesmerizing watching it paddle all around my pool. I was impressed so far.

Now to the review after about a month of service:

Battery life - Solar Breeze claims that Ariel can run overnight. That's just not the case. I get maybe 3 hours or so after the sun goes down. The good news it that the solar panel is large enough to keep her paddling about all day on a reasonably sunny day. If dark clouds set in, Ariel will eventually go to standby. It's all a matter of how cloudy, angle of the available sun, and time. I won't even try to run mine in rainy day full cloud cover, or at night.

Leaf and debris gathering performance - It did not take long for me to realize that "In my pool" with "my small leaves" , Ariel's ability to pick up anything was pretty much a failing grade and very disappointing. However, I'm a retired Mechanical Engineer, and a tinker'r for sure, so I set out to see If I could improve Ariel's capture efficiency.

First off the problems - Ariel's attitude and angle in the water put the tips of the front gathering paddle pretty deep in the water. The effect of this was that as Ariel paddled around, it created a fairly large bow wave that extend out about 8 to 12" in front of the pontoons. The impact of the bow wave is that anything in the path that should be captured, rides the bow wave out to the sides past the gathering opening. By the time Ariel gets to where the debris was, it's already out side of the gathering opening. So- there's nothing to pick up, it's already on the side or behind Ariel. The President of Solar Breeze suggested I add some weight to that back to raise the front paddle up. I did that and it did reduce the amplitude and effect of the bow wave. I would say the capture efficiency went for about 5% (of stuff that was in it's path) to about 15%. So 85% of the debris that should have been picked up was still being missed! It would paddle about all day and the leaf drop would very quickly overwhelm Ariel's gathering rate. Clearly the efficiency needed more improvement.

Pontoons - The shape of the pontoons (semi - blunted front) is such that the eddy current in front of the pontoon simply pushes leaves out and around the sides of Ariel. Plus the pontoons are tucked slightly under the sides of the white top housing and orange corner bumpers. The effect of that is that there is no way on gods green earth that Ariel will gather anything within 4 to 6" near the edges of a pool. You pool owners know that surface tension of the water tends to make stuff hang out around the perimeter.

So I designed and fabricated a pair of front winglets that create a much larger opening in the front, and extend out the sides far enough to contact to sides of the pool liner as Ariel rides the perimeter, This is not 100% effective at removing leaves that are stuck to the side of the liner but it's pretty good at getting stuff that's within 1/2" of the pool edge. This modification improved the capture efficiency from about 15% to 85% 'ish. With that Ariel can easily keep up with my Shademaster locust.

Now finally keeping the leaves and bugs in the tray - Now that I had good capture efficiency the next problem became obvious. It seems that as Ariel exercised it's timed reverse movement, the debris that had been captured would get expelled out of the front past the gathering paddle wheel. How disappointing is that?? Go to the trouble to gather stuff, then spit it all out.

My solution to this was to add a thin mylar flapper on the front of the gathering tray. The flapper just barely touches the tips of the gathering wheel. I kind of acts like a one way valve. Like the Hotel California - Stuff can check out any time they like but they can never leave. It actually works like a charm!

So- my Ariel is now an awesome leaf and bug eating monster! Your experience may be completely different than mine but I thought I would share.
My next improvement will be to add whiskers to the winglets to see if I can get those pesky leaves that stick to the sides of the liner.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the typos, wrong words, misspellings, and crappy sentence structures.
Regards,
Steve
Hi Steve .. 'Cool' write up, and using my limited imagination I can almost mentally picture your 'monster machine', but . . I agree with my friend "KD", a pic or two to define your design would be very welcome.

Okay you're an "ME", so I wonder (since you must have taken a few 'EE electives'), what can you envision doing internally to compensate for Ariel's disappointing lack of converted solar 'capacitance' (?). I am fortunately w/o a 'Shademaster' unit, however overnight I get some sort of fine-particle 'Cosmic Trash' build up that I have to vacuum at least every couple days. The NX I previously owned always took care of this, because it ran "All Night" ... like I expected out of a '10 Hour Op Time After Dusk' skimmer should do !

I'm a newby as well. So far I am very impressed with the folks, and information contained on this forum. Thanks !
 
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